Leaflets are available from September of each year, from schools, churches and drop-off points. You can download our 2018 leaflet by clicking this link: 2018 Boxes of Hope Leaflet
Find a medium-sized, empty shoebox (PLEASE NO BOOT BOXES and preferably don’t use a box with a hinged lid), and cover the lid and box separately with any bright wrapping paper. You may prefer Sellotape or glue, or even wallpaper paste which makes the box more substantial. Some people have used wallpaper successfully, others have painted the box with emulsion and added stickers. If you really struggle to cover the box, some of our drop-off points keep some covered boxes and you may be able to collect one already covered.
Decide whether you want to make a box for a boy or a girl. Quite often there are different ages and different genders in a family, and all these children are used to sharing, so a mixture of things is not a bad idea. As we always receive more ‘girl’ than ‘boy’ shoeboxes, boys sometimes receive a ‘girl’ box, so we would like you to put a toy car in every box if possible.
Think about what you might put into the box, and go looking for bargains. Some of our shoebox donors are busy collecting all the year round. An ideal box will contain some sturdy toys such as ball, doll, toy car, dominoes, skipping rope, and then basics such as soap and facecloth, toothbrush and paste, hairbrush or comb, hat, scarf, mittens, socks, educational supplies such as paper, pens, pencils, colouring pencils, ruler, rubber and pencil sharpener. Add some treats – sparkly hair accessories or bracelet/necklace for a girl, football stickers for a boy, and some sweets. And a cuddly toy will go down well with all ages. A plastic mug will be useful. Hey presto – your box is full. You may like to add a photo or a greetings card to make the box gift more personal.
And please add a donation of at least £2, in an envelope, on the top of the contents, inside your box, gift aided if you are a tax payer (we need your name, first line of your address and postcode). Your shoebox cannot be taken overseas unless we can pay for the transport. The cost of fuel is high. We have a team of willing volunteers for all aspects of the project, and keep expenses to a minimum.
Filling a shoebox is fun. You can fill a shoebox on your own at home, or you can get family and friends involved. Have a shoebox party, where everyone brings a contribution. Make an evening of it with cheese and wine, or a buffet meal … or just tea and coffee. Some people like covering boxes, others like going round the shops looking for bargains. Some people love to knit or crochet, and can make hats, scarves, mittens or even blankets. There are many knitting and craft groups who meet regularly for a natter as well as for the shoeboxes.
Whole communities in Cumbria get involved in the shoebox project. Many churches collect throughout the year, and many have an event in October where all ages gather to fill their shoeboxes. Most of the schools in the county take part, and sixth form colleges, WIs, work groups. Several care homes and day centres are involved.
The whole effort brings together friends and strangers. Newcomers to an area, the elderly or recently bereaved, the unemployed – lots of lasting friendships have been made through this inspirational yet simple project.
A shoebox does not have to be expensive to fill, but please be aware that the child at the other end is not used to handling toys and may not have the manual dexterity to deal with things which easily damage. Be aware also that the child will not have had experience of many of the things we take for granted – so don’t put in those bath crystals which look like fruit – or even modelling clay – the child may well think they are edible.